Morning Sun Across The Valley
Acrylic on paper
56 x 38cm Approx
I'm not an early riser, but one glorious #winter, I worked out the best #light to observe this #subject, was going to be somewhere between nine and ten o'clock in the morning. I waited for the right conditions, put on my boots and set off into the hills. As I walked through the crisp #snow I could see the farm in the distance illuminated by the Pennine version of alpenglow. It's not really the same as alpenglow, but when you live in a grey and wet climate, any kind of early sunshine feels like alpenglow. I could feel the apprehension building as I made my way onwards, first down into the bottom of the valley, then over a stream and steeply up the other side. If I spent too long looking around, the sun would end up too high and the #shadows on the valley side would have been lost. The farm would also be no longer illuminated. Sometimes it pays to wait for the right day, and on this occasion the light covering of #snow reflected deep blue shadows against the oranges and browns of the trees. But down here in the valley I found an even better composition than the one I was intending to find, with the big shapes of the foreground trees lending warmth and scale to the scene. The light was also perfect. This is a typical example of how I achieve my compositions. The radar is always switched on for combinations of design elements, such as big shapes, small shapes, value contrast, colour harmony and so on. I recorded a cracking #subject, and set off up the hillside to explore other possibilities before the entire scene was cloaked in the shadow of the hill.
I began the #painting with an overall coverage of yellow ochre and burnt sienna. You can see slivers of this shimmering through the painting and also, the foreground trees comprise mostly this #colour. I worked quickly to block in the general #colours, #shapes and values without focussing on creating any kind of representation or finesse. Below is the point where I finished the stage of building this foundation. You can clearly see the lack of perfection and the rapid way I have used the #brushwork.
Working further on the painting I built up more layers of colour, sometimes darkening values and sometimes lightening through the addition of titanium white. The most important ingredient here though is #matt #medium. This is the polymer binder from the paint and by adding it to colour I can easily adjust the #opacity whilst maintaining the same viscosity of paint. This allows layers from underneath to show through and is essential for building structure, and #shade. Take a look again at the finished painting and see if you can spot some of these transparent #layers. They are particularly noticable in the foreground trees. If you want to learn about #acrylic mediums and how they work, I have an informative tutorial on my tutorials page here.
Paul Talbot-Greaves RI, Artist, Author, Tutor
Paul Talbot-Greaves has been painting and writing for 30 years. He writes many articles for The Artist magazine (UK), has four practical art books published and has contributed to various others. He is represented by numerous galleries based around the North of England. He can be found on Instagram and Facebook where he regularly posts up to date pieces and inspirational stories.